On April 8, Gov. Andy Beshear amended KRS 158.4414 through House Bill 63 to require the assignment of school resource officers to all public schools beginning Aug. 1.
However, there has been a reported shortage of SROs available to districts across the state, with many school districts still well below the guideline.
State School Security Marshal Ben Wilcox said that as of August, his office was able to report that more than 50% of Kentucky’s school districts are equipped with an SRO as defined by HB 63.
“Since Gov. Beshear signed HB 63 into law, this is a 21% increase of school resource officers who have been assigned to protect Kentucky schools, ensuring children and staff have a safe learning environment,” he said. “OSSSM will continue to work with every school district in Kentucky to assist with compliance and make adjustments as funding and personnel become available, per statute.”
KRS 158.4414(2) states that local boards of education shall ensure, for each campus in the district, that at least one certified SRO is assigned to and working on-site full-time in the school building or buildings on campus.
“If sufficient funds and qualified personnel are not available for this purpose for every campus, the local board of education shall fulfill the requirements of this subsection on a per campus basis, as approved in writing by the state school security marshal, until a certified school resource officer is assigned to and working on-site full-time on each campus in the district,” the statute said.
Hannah Thurman, public information officer for Daviess County Public Schools, said the district currently has six DCPS police officers and are in the application and search process of hiring two additional officers.
“DCPS has received approval from the Office of the State School Security Marshal for our plan for future placement of SROs when sufficient funds and qualified personnel become available,” she said.
The five DCPS SROs are stationed at Daviess County High School, Apollo High School, Daviess County Middle School, College View Middle School and Burns Middle School, with additional substitute SROs that assist with district coverage and patrol.
“At (the Aug. 25) Board of Education meeting, the board approved to add two more full-time SROs to give us a total of seven full-time positions, plus the district-wide substitute,” Thurman said. “The newly-added officers will cover our elementary schools by east/west divisions. Two of our middle schools have adjoining campuses with elementary schools (CVMS/Deer Park Elementary School and BMS/Burns Elementary School). Following the move to the new DCMS building, Meadow Lands Elementary School will be in very close proximity to a middle school as well.”
Jared Revlett, public information officer for Owensboro Public Schools, said the district has also filed with the OSSSM and currently only has two SROs in the district — one at Owensboro High School and one at the Owensboro Middle/Innovation campus.
Revlett said because OPS schools are within close proximity, a Owensboro Police Department officer will frequently drive the neighborhoods and check-in with the schools several times a day.